The first step to bringing a home to Showing Quality (SQ) is to address the minor (and major) cosmetic issues that need addressing with the home. Every seller has a budget, and there is a level of experience required to determine which changes/fixes make the most sense given that budget. Make sure to realize that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach because each scenario is different.
To the benefit of my sellers, I have managed to keep the cost of cosmetic updates below $5000 for homes up to 3000 square feet. I achieve this with the assistance of a handyman that does high-quality work, at prices that are severely lower than the regular competition in your location. Doug and his team have been invaluable to my business; it is advisable to find your own ‘Doug’, as a seller OR a Realtor in your particular market.
With that said, what is the order of operations to get to SQ by way of cosmetic updates? Here is how I rank the important issues in ROI for a seller (in Fairfield County CT, and Norwalk specifically):
For all six items above, my handyman does a great job of itemizing the list, line-by-line so my seller clients know exactly where their dollars are being spent. This also enables the seller to know the total scope of what I might recommend (thus giving them full transparency on what to do), but can pick and choose despite your advice, based on their budget.
Disclaimer: These lists of ROI are intended for homes under $1,500,000 in Fairfield County. Local real estate is different, so consult a Realtor if you are reading this and are not located in Connecticut.
There are issues such as termite treatment, non-functioning mechanicals, and other blatantly obvious items that may need addressing. If your roof is leaking, fix it! If the roof is 30 years old, manage your expectations by knowing the buyer might ask for a credit. The key here is to know what is coming, and to not be surprised by it.
If your heating system, cooling system, hot water heater, or any other major mechanical is not working, it must be fixed or the buyers will look for a steep discount in price.
A special note here: if the heating system doesn’t work, the buyer may not be able to get financing for the property. If the electric panel is fuse-based (instead of breakers), it is possible the buyer won’t be able to get insurance, and therefore won’t finish qualifying for a mortgage.
So, if you are a seller or a Realtor with a listing, these tips should have been useful. Unless the budget is actually $0, don't be complacent in this category. A little goes a long way.
We (Joe and Chris Balestriere) are Realtors in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Our blog is meant to educate buyers and sellers and equip them with tools to get the most out of their Realtor, whether it is us or someone else. We focus on technology and how it enhances the work we do for our clients--we are not top CT Realtors by accident.